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Tips on interviewing and sourcing

Manny Garcia

By Doug Haddix

IRE training director

There’s nothing wrong – and everything right – with rehearsing interviews, especially those that must be done by phone, according to Manny Garcia, executive editor of El Nuevo Herald in Miami, Fla.

Sometimes, a reporter has only a minute or two to make a pitch by phone, given obstacles such as call-waiting and voice mail.

Garcia’s advice came during an IRE Ethnic Media Watchdog Workshop at Boston University on Sept. 12.

At the end of every interview, he said, ask the source if you forgot to ask something. Often, that opens up a crucial second round of the interview.

Garcia’s other tips included:

  • Request the emergency contact list of every government agency you cover before an emergency. That way, you’ll have cell phone numbers for key officials during a crisis. If the office recoils, file a formal records request under your state open records act.
  • Humility works better than hubris during interviews.
  • Obtain internal telephone directories of the offices you cover. If possible, get copies from previous years to help locate former employees, who may be likelier to talk than current workers.

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